He and his longtime comedy accomplice, straight man Steve Rossi, had been a ubiquitous tv presence for greater than a decade; Nat King Cole introduced them collectively.
Marty Allen, the bubble-eyed comic whose Brillo pad-like hair all the time seemed as if it had been making an attempt to flee from his head, has died. He was 95.
Allen, who saved a technology laughing all through the 1950s and ’60s along with his comedy accomplice, straight man Steve Rossi, died in Las Vegas of issues from pneumonia along with his spouse, Karon Kate Blackwell, by his aspect, Allen’s spokeswoman instructed the Associated Press.
Between 1957 and 1968, Allen & Rossi — along with numerous nightclub appearances — popped up on tv on a minimum of 700 events, making greater than 40 visits to The Ed Sullivan Show alone. Three of the 4 occasions the Beatles appeared on the legendary selection present, the comics had been on as nicely.
The zany Allen led the cost with a cherubic face stuffed with exaggerated expressions and his signature catchphrase, “Hello Dere.” The phrase took place purely accidentally.
“We were in Philadelphia at the Latin Casino, and Steve asked me some kind of question in the middle of the act, but I blanked. I couldn’t figure out what he’d asked me,” he instructed The Las Vegas Sun in a 2014 interview. “Maybe I was thinking of something else, and out of my mouth I said, ‘Hello Dere!’ He looked at me as if I’d lost my mind, so I repeated, ‘Hello Dere!’ When the show was over, people came over and laughingly said, ‘Hey, Hello Dere!’ ”
“I said, ‘My gosh, I’ve got something that you dream about.’ You go all your life to try to find some kind of a gimmick, and there it was. It was friendly, and it was warm. Wherever we went, if they said General de Gaulle, I’d say, ‘Bonjour Dere!’ If it was Israeli, I’d say, ‘Shalom Dere!’, and it caught fire. ‘Hello Dere!’ became one of our lucky pieces.”
Just as distinctive was Allen’s loopy, flyaway coiffure. It simply appeared to assist make something he did all of the funnier.
“When we were on with the Beatles, they kept looking at me, at my hair, and they were hysterically laughing. We took a picture because they couldn’t believe that anybody would have that kind of a style haircut,” Allen instructed the Sun. “I’ve always had it, and it was more or less a great trademark. There’s no secret formula. I shampoo and comb my hair, and that’s the way it goes.”
Allen & Rossi launched 16 comedy albums and headlined one characteristic movie, The Last of the Secret Agents? (1966), earlier than parting methods in 1968. Allen continued on with a profitable tv and nightclub profession. Rossi teamed up with different comedians, together with Joe E. Ross and Slappy White, however by no means approached the extent of success he had with Allen.
But Allen & Rossi break up on good phrases, and thru the subsequent three many years, the staff would reunite when alternative knocked. In 1984, they joined forces for a sequence of reveals in Atlantic City, which led to a tour. Vegas World (now the Stratosphere) signed them for a lifetime contract in 1990. They performed the lodge/on line casino for 4 years earlier than going their separate methods once more.
Marty Allen was born Morton David Alpern in Pittsburgh on March 23, 1922, and he attended Taylor Allderdice High School within the metropolis’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood. (Other notable graduates of the varsity embrace administrators Rob Marshall and Antoine Fuqua and rapper Wiz Khalifa.)
He enlisted within the U.S. Army Air Corps, was stationed in Italy throughout World War II and rose to the rank of sergeant. After a airplane caught fireplace throughout refueling, Allen’s actions earned him a Soldier’s Medal for heroism.
Allen returned to Pittsburgh after the battle and launched a profession in comedy. Sometimes he appeared on stage alone, different occasions with a bandleader or singer. For a number of years, he teamed with straight man Mitch DeWood, taking part in such golf equipment as Miami Beach’s Monte Carlo and New York’s Copacabana. They would heat up the gang for the likes of Sarah Vaughan, Eydie Gorme and Nat King Cole.
During a 1967 look on the sport present What’s My Line?, Allen and Rossi revealed that it was Cole who urged they turn into an act.
“Steve was a production singer at the Sands Hotel, and I had worked with Nat on numerous occasions, on concerts, and we were very good friends. I helped pick out a lot of his hits,” Allen joked as he lifted his eyes skyward with an incredulous look.
Allen went on to inform host John Daly and a panel that included Woody Allen that Rossi had talked about to Cole that he was all in favour of doing a nightclub act, and the singer thought he’d be the right foil for Allen.
For greater than a decade, Allen & Rossi carried out nonstop. The tall and good-looking Rossi usually opened with a track after which launched one in every of Allen’s comedian characters: a punch-drunk fighter, Christopher Columbus, a clueless golfer. The first phrases out of Allen’s mouth had been all the time “Hello Dere.”
The jokes would run one thing like this:
Rossi: I perceive yesterday you simply missed a hole-in-one.Allen: Yeah, by 5 strokes.
Allen & Rossi had been “must” bookings on lots of the selection or speak reveals of the period, they usually visited applications hosted by Perry Como, Jack Paar, Steve Allen, Garry Moore, Merv Griffin, Dean Martin and Johnny Carson. The pair was additionally in demand on sport reveals, making appearances on I’ve Got a Secret, Match Game, Password and To Tell the Truth.
Allen made his Broadway debut in 1961, with out Rossi, in Let It Ride, and adopted up with roles within the stage musicals Nowhere to Go however Up, Hot Spot and I Had a Ball. In 1968, he made his dramatic debut on ABC’s The Big Valley, taking part in a hapless ranch hand who brings unhealthy luck wherever he goes.
After his break up with Rossi, Allen continued to stretch his performing chops with TV appearances on Love: American Style, Night Gallery, Flying High, Monster Squad, Benson and It’s Garry Shandling’s Show.
He was additionally seen within the options The Ballad of Billie Blue (1972), The Great Waltz (1972), Harrad Summer (1974) and Cannonball Run II (1984).
During the 1970s and ’80s, he was a comic book mainstay all around the tv dial. The Hollywood Squares featured him in additional than 100 episodes, and he was an everyday on Circus of the Stars and The $1.98 Beauty Show. In 2014, Allen revealed his autobiography, titled, not surprisingly, Hello Dere!
Into his 90s, Allen nonetheless was bringing comedy to dwell audiences. Partnering this time along with his second spouse, Blackwell, a recording artist, he appeared in a number of venues round Vegas.
As he instructed the Sun simply after his 92nd birthday: “No, no retirement. To be honest with you, I have a great feel for people, I love entertaining, I love reacting to everybody and enjoy what I’m doing. Karon enjoys it, and we hit it off so well. That’s the story, and I’ll go on stage as long as I can go or until they carry me off.”